In this July 13, 1980, file photo, Ronald Reagan, left smiles with Republican National Chair Bill Brock, right, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Credit: File / AP

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to

Paul LePage and many Republicans have cited Ronald Reagan conservatism as their own framework in politics and government. For sure, I have always been a huge Reagan supporter, and I voted twice for LePage for governor.

But in recent years, many Republicans have latched onto the mantra that Reagan was anti-government, which is not true. He believed in a minimalist federal government, but did not consider himself an enemy of government.

LePage has mirrored former President Donald Trump’s behaviors in many cases, and Reagan never behaved in any such fashion. LePage and Trump seem to have a genuine hatred for political opponents, the press and anyone who is not a loyal supporter. Reagan used to passionately debate with then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill (a Democrat), and afterward have a drink and friendly visit. They were friends. I guess that is a bygone era.

Reagan’s former chief of staff James Baker said in an interview that Reagan would often say, “I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than go over the cliff with my flags flying.” In the same piece, he quoted Greg Leo (who served in the Reagan administration) describing the Reagan era, “We were not anarchists; we were conservatives.”

There seems to be a significant anarchist streak running through the new “alt-right,” and I think LePage is starting to show his more lately. This is not conservatism.

I try to be optimistic, but I fear for the direction our country and state and fragile democracy is headed. Many of the people whom I had assumed believed in Ronald Reagan conservatism seem willing to go head first waving their flags. They seem willing to burn it all down (the government) no matter the consequence to democracy. I don’t think I will be voting for LePage this time around.

Philip Duggan